The 2020 Cardinal O’Connor Conference (COCC) on Life announced Sr. Bethany Madonna as one of the keynote speakers, making note of her important and admirable work with pregnant women to give them access to vital health resources and financial support both during and after pregnancy. COCC neglected to include information regarding Madonna’s anti-LGBT views and her criticisms of other women’s sexual liberation.
Sr. Bethany Madonna is a member of the Sisters of Life, a pro-life order that works to “rehabilitate” pregnant women. While their work providing pregnant women with health and financial services is important, their views on abortion are abhorrant. Sr. Madonna herself described an experience she had praying outside an abortion clinic, calling the women entering the clinic “sad” and “abandoned.” Women choose to have abortions for different reasons, and to insinuate that women seeking an abortion are “abandoned” is a ridiculously oversimplified, judgmental, and misogynistic view on a multifaceted choice. Simply praying outside an abortion clinic will never be equivalent to actively facing the choice itself. In an interview at the 2018 FOCUS conference, she actively condemned “promiscuous culture” and described these “promiscuous” women as “settling for counterfeits” and “grasping. She claimed that abortion, which she refers to as the “culture of death” is caused by “not knowing something basic: that I [pregnant women] am good and I[pregnant women] am loved and I[pregnant women] am worthy of being treated with respect.” At face value, Madonna’s work creates the image of a woman dedicated to helping other women, but that illusion quickly fades when she opens her mouth. She views women who feel comfortable expressing their sexuality as sad and to be pitied for their own personal choices. Yet, she works with “these women” every day- her work with pregnant women is nothing more than her own way of achieving the gratification of being a “savior.”
On top of her convoluted views regarding women, she chose to speak at the 2018 Franciscan University of Steubenville Gift of Human Sexuality Symposium, which touted anti-LGBT ideologies. The conference itself stated that “Marriage is a faithful, fruitful, and life-long committed relationship between one man and one woman” as one of its central viewpoints. During her address, Madonna spoke about the dangers of the “habit of masturbation.” She claimed that “those who experience same sex desires can find their ultimate fullness in Jesus” and that gay men and women can find “the grace to be able to be freed and live a chaste lifestyle.”
Sr. Bethany Madonna goes against everything both H*ya’s for Choice and Georgetown University stands for. Georgetown flaunts the Jesuit ideology of “cura personalis,” of which respect is a central tenant. Does Sr. Bethany Madonna respect me, a sex-positive woman? Does Sr. Bethany Madonna respect members of the LGBTQ+ community? She clearly does not. For Georgetown to allow such a disrespectful person to step foot on our campus is disgraceful to the Georgetown community as a whole.